Principles to Set as a New Manager

Jonathan Tiret

VP, Engineering at Doctrine



In my opinion, one of the main objectives that you want to reach as a new manager is to get your team to become as completely autonomous as possible without being a bottleneck. This is hard for a first time manager when you have been operational and are used to directly contributing to the team by doing the things yourself.

Actions taken

  • You have to remain operational in order to fill in the gaps where people may not be as highly skilled.
  • Stay empathetic while also setting limits. Understand the problems that your team members are encountering and coach them on their professional problems, but do not dig into the specifics.
  • Rely everything on facts and never on assumptions. Try telling employees the specific times they were late, asking them if there is anything wrong because it impacts their work and ability to deliver that work. Offer your help while letting them know that you have to understand where you are and where we you are going as a team.
  • When addressing conflicts or potential for promotion, you should not guess for the team member. Let them tell their story, do some active listening, and do not speak too much.
  • If you find yourself in the middle of a conflict between two of your team members, you must not act as the bridge between them unless it's really necessary. Ask them what was said between them originally and enable them to speak to each other even when they are addressing conflicts. If this doesn't work, which it generally does, bring them into a room and offer them a space to speak with each other.

Lessons learned

  • It is okay for you to fill in the gaps, but you should maintain a long term goal of your team reaching autonomy. This is especially true for smaller teams.
  • Managing a team does not leave much room for friendships. Remain at a place with your team members that doesn't dig too deep into personal or professional problems. Otherwise, it becomes hard to scale.
  • Everything you say should be based on facts. You can have assumptions, but you should never state them to your employee until you have evidence or facts to back it up. If you tell someone they are always late, this is not a fact, but rather an interpretation and you need to be careful with that.
  • If you speak too much while addressing issues with a team member you are at risk of over suggesting yourself to them.
  • It is very important to avoid being the bridge while you are facilitating a conversation between two teammates. Allow the conversation to happen organically.
  • When you force your team member to act at a certain way, they will at some point understand that they can not rely on you to do things for them in their day to day work and conflict solving. This is something you only understand after making the investment in building this understanding.
  • At first, reaching the point of an autonomous team is difficult without bottlenecking. I think you need to invest and stick to your goal, even if you can't see the outcome. If you can do that, after a few weeks or a month, you will see the return investment in this.

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Jonathan Tiret

VP, Engineering at Doctrine

Leadership & StrategyCommunicationOrganizational StrategyTeam & Project ManagementTraining & MentorshipFeedback & ReviewsRoles & TitlesIndividual Contributor RolesLeadership RolesEngineering Manager

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